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It’s a home game tonight against Tottenham Hotspur and that would normally have me reminiscing about the great games between the two teams back in the early 1960s, of Jimmy McIlroy and Danny Blanchflower, of Cliff Jones and John Connelly, of Ray Pointer and Jimmy Greaves, the list goes on.

But the memory that comes flooding back tonight is a game between the two clubs not quite as long ago, in fact the very last occasion we met back in March when I stepped into Turf Moor for the last time. There were rumours of potential restrictions then but I packed into a room in the Jimmy Mac stand before the game for a meeting and then spoke to Dave Thomas (author not former player) before the game and recall him making light of any suggestion that over 70s might be prevented from attending future games because of this Coronvirus thing that was hitting the world.

Six days later saw the Premier League suspended and although we’ve played a total of 16 league and cup games since, they, like tonight’s game, have all been behind closed doors. Have I missed not being able to go to games? Oh yes. Is it getting easier missing them? No, if anything I’m finding it more difficult. It’s not just me though. I know so many who are missing football every bit as much. I know so many who are struggling with life right now and all we can do is hope that one day soon we are able to safely get back to a more normal way of life.

And so, it’s a Face Time call again tonight with friends, and a seat in front of my eleven and a half year old television, currently being discussed on the message board. Another game played out like this with us hoping to get our first home point since Chris Wood scored that late penalty against Wolves last season.

It is just our second home league game of the season; three of the first four have been away, but it might be a difficult one given the way Spurs are scoring goals on the road right now – a total of eleven in the last 136 minutes.

I love football, I love going to football, I love spending time with my football friends. That’s all been taken away for the past seven months and more. It’s not just me either, it’s not just the fans but the players too.

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“It seems a lifetime ago now,” said full back Charlie Taylor of last season’s game against Spurs. “You take for granted the fans being there every week. Not just me, but everyone. We miss them and we’d love the fans to be back as soon as possible. It’s something everyone misses hugely. Hopefully, fans being back isn’t too far away and hopefully that can happen.”
Taylor was in the team that drew at West Brom to get us moving after three defeats. “A point is a good start,” he said. “In a perfect world we would have liked three, but it’s got us on the board now and it’s something to build on. Tottenham are a top class team with world class players. We know what they’re about and it’s going to be tough. But there’s no reason why we can’t get something out of the game. We’ve done well against Spurs here and hopefully we can continue that.”

There’s no doubt that Taylor is just about a fixture on the left of defence when fit but it is a different story right now on the right. Matt Lowton suffered an injury against Manchester City in the League Cup although Phil Bardsley was in possession of the shirt in the league. Bardsley then tested positive for COVID-19 and last week we had to play left-back Erik Pieters on the right. He did well but unfortunately has a calf injury that is likely to rule him out tonight. The good news is that Lowton is expected to be fit.

The injury list, mercifully, is shortening. We might have both Bardsley and Pieters unavailable but with Bailey Peacock-Farrell expected to be available to take his place on the bench it leaves us with only Ben Mee and Jack Cork still out of the reckoning and in Mee’s case, we could be looking at a return soon after the November international break.

What will tonight’s team be? My guess is that Lowton will come in for Pieters in an otherwise unchanged team from that which drew at West Brom. We would then line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Will Norris, Jimmy Dunne, Anthony Glennon, Josh Benson, Robbie Brady, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra.

Spurs come into tonight’s game in eleventh place in th e table with eight points from five games and it’s their away form, so far, that has got them into this position. At home they’ve been beaten by Everton while drawing against both Newcastle and West Ham although it is fair to say they should have won both those games. They were pegged back by Newcastle at the end due to a ridiculous penalty decision while they simply imploded against West Ham having led 3-0 up to the 82nd minute.

They are playing away from home tonight and the two away games they’ve played previously have been interesting. At Southampton, they trailed to a Danny Ings goal as half time approached. They were fortunate to be only one goal behind and then equalised through Son Heung-min in first half stoppage time.

By the time Ings got his second from the penalty spot, another ridiculous decision, Spurs had netted a further four. Son ended the game with four; Harry Kane, who kept getting assists, scored the other.

In their next away game at Manchester United they fell behind to an early penalty. They were 2-1 up with only seven minutes gone and went on to win the game 6-1, so that’s eleven Premier League goals they’ve scored in two away games this season. Son Heung-min has six of them with Kane having netted three.

Those two are going to be a threat tonight, of that there is no doubt, while they could also be giving a first league start to Gareth Bale who once scored for Spurs on the Turf in the Premier League.

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They do have a former Burnley player in their squad too in goalkeeper Joe Hart. Ahead of tonight’s game, when he is expected to be on the bench, he said: “It’s nice to go back. There are a lot of really good people at that club that I’ll be looking forward to seeing, probably more after the game. During the game I go there as a Spurs player and looking to do battle for the squad that I’m in.”

Asked about the Clarets and how we make it tough for teams, he added: “That’s really simple. They don’t really try and gloss over how you work there. You go in there with intensity, you go in there willing to give everything and put your body on the line for the team. That’s the beauty of that club, it’s a hard working club, and that’s mirrored with the players.

“I think they don’t really get enough credit sometimes. There’s a lot of quality in the team as well. The boys know their roles really well, the manager coaches them to know exactly what they’re doing and basically the fundamentals of the team mean that if the opposition is not on it, they’re probably going to beat them.”

Spurs’ only injury doubt is Eric Dier and Mourinho is expected to name a strong side having rested a number of players during last midweek in the Europa League.

The Spurs team for the West Ham game in their most recent Premier League game was: Hugo Lloris, Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Sergio Reguilόn, Davinson Sánchez, Son Heung-min, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Moussa Sissoko, Steven Bergwijn, Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Kane. Subs: Joe Hart, Matt Doherty, Carlos Vinicius, Lucas Moura, Ben Davies, Gareth Bale, Harry Winks.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

On Saturday, 7th March 2020 some 20,496 people watched a 1-1 draw between Burnley and Spurs. It took our unbeaten run to seven games but it would be a further 107 days before we would play again.

There was a hint of what was to come. In my report of the game, I wrote: “It certainly seems the good folk who follow the Clarets have been taking in the advice issued recently. I think it is the first time I’ve ever seen a queue in the gents as everyone waited to wash their hands.”

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We looked like a team in form during the first half, a first half that, following an early scare, we dominated. It resulted in Chris Wood giving us the lead and we had totally outplayed Spurs who must have been thankful they were only one goal behind.

Unfortunately, that lead had gone five minutes into the second half when Dele Alli converted a penalty conceded by Ben Mee and for a while Spurs were in the ascendancy. But we stormed back in the latter stages of the game. We didn’t get a winner but we were very definitely the more likely in the final quarter of the game.

Apart from a meeting with former CEO Dave Baldwin five days later, this was my last visit to Turf Moor. I so look forward to being able to report on a game again that I’ve watched from my seat inside the ground.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick (Aaron Lennon 89), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez (Matěj Vydra 68), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Josh Brownhill, Robbie Brady.

Tottenham: Hugo Lloris, Davinson Sánchez, Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Japhet Tanganga, Oliver Skipp (Giovani Lo Celso ht), Tanguy Ndombele (Lucas Moura ht), Jan Vertonghen, Erik Lamela (Serge Aurier 78), Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn. Subs not used: Paulo Gazzaniga, Ryan Sessegnon, Harry Winks, Gedson Fernandes.

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